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Seoul: Won higher on worries over US politics; joint military exercises in focus

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The South Korean won edged higher early on Monday as ongoing concerns about US President Donald Trump's ability to push through his economic agenda dragged down the US dollar.

[SEOUL] The South Korean won edged higher early on Monday as ongoing concerns about US President Donald Trump's ability to push through his economic agenda dragged down the US dollar.

The United States and South Korea begin joint military exercises on Monday, with investor concerns over a flare-up tensions seen capping gains in the won.

The won was quoted at 1,137.7 against the US dollar, up 0.3 per cent versus Friday's close of 1,141.3.

"The currency could have reacted more to doubts in the US politics and gain past the 1,137 level, were it not for Ulchi Freedom Guardian," said Min Gyeong-won, a foreign exchange analyst at NH Futures, using the operational name for the joint exercises.

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Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole meeting later this week is also informing investors'wait-and-see approach, added Min.

South Korean shares were pressured with market sentiment was hurt by turmoil in US Politics.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (Kospi) was down 0.2 per cent at 2,353.05 points.

Offshore investors were set to be net sellers, offloading a net 30.9 billion Korean won (S$37 million) worth of Kospi shares near mid-session.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 462 to 325.

Shares of S-Oil and SK Innovation rose 4 per cent and 3.2 per cent each following a hike in global oil prices overnight.

Market heavyweights were mixed. Web portal Naver lost 1 per cent while SK Hynix gained 1 per cent.

September futures on three-year treasury bonds gained 0.01 point to 109.14.

REUTERS